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Finite and Infinite Games

Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
Length: 4 hrs and 11 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

“There are at least two kinds of games,” states James P. Carse as he begins this extraordinary book. “One could be called finite, the other infinite.”

Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life; they are played in order to be won, which is when they end. But infinite games are more mysterious. Their object is not winning but ensuring the continuation of play. The rules may change, the boundaries may change, even the participants may change - as long as the game is never allowed to come to an end.

What are infinite games? How do they affect the ways we play our finite games? What are we doing when we play - finitely or infinitely? And how can infinite games affect the ways in which we live our lives?

Carse explores these questions with stunning elegance, teasing out of his distinctions a universe of observation and insight, noting where and why and how we play, finitely and infinitely. He surveys our world - from the finite games of the playing field and playing board to the infinite games found in culture and religion - leaving all we think we know illuminated and transformed. Along the way, Carse finds new ways of understanding everything, from how an actress portrays a role to how we engage in sex, from the nature of evil to the nature of science. Finite games, he shows, may offer wealth and status, power and glory, but infinite games offer something far more subtle and far grander.

Carse has written a book rich in insight and aphorism. Already an international literary event, Finite and Infinite Games is certain to be argued about and celebrated for years to come. Listening to it is the first step in learning to play the infinite game.

©2011 James Carse (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Try the paperback

Great narration and I think the content was good, but it felt like it would've been better as a paperback in which you can write notes, highlight passages, etc.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Dense and poetic

Had to push through the heavy prose at times but came together in beautiful disturbing clarity in the final chapters.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-12-2018

Interesting, but not well explained

There are frustratingly few examples of the complex ideas the author is trying to communicate, which detracts from the listener's ability to comprehend. The book is rife with phrases like "the finite game is played within boundaries, while the infinite game plays with boundaries." After about 5 phrases in a row like this, you'd really like an example to fully illustrate what he means, which the author adamantly refuses to provide. It's a real shame because I thought the themes the author plays with really do explore some interesting ways of viewing the world and shaping one's view of the world.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Nir
  • 25-11-2018

Brilliant

A brilliant book - every sentence is thought provoking. Enjoyed every moment. The book is not easy, and the narration is somewhat fast - would consider also having the kindle version for deep diving into these ideas.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • 16-10-2018

great book!

when i listen to this again ill have the physical book with me, its hard to take it all in with just audio... there is so much to unpack!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Diego
  • 06-10-2018

Good enough description about philosophy

The book itself is a good introduction to the concept of infinite games from a philosophical perspective. Sometimes it drives away too much from this topic and starts defining other side-related concepts like religion. But overall, it's a good book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Philo
  • 19-05-2018

Some brilliant nuggets. Sometimes quirky.

I had expected something a bit more mathematized and very nerdy-structured. This is philosophical, floating above the little stark technical forms I expected. The title itself was very evocative and the content takes off well from there. It is fun to scrutinize a thousand things I do every day for the features of one or both of these game types. I will never look the same way at goals, titles, all sorts of signposts in human affairs, or their absence. The infinite games idea is more diffuse and I'm still wrapping my head around that. The finite games idea is rich in examples. It bends the way I think and interpret (and strategize) in new ways.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • cappa
  • 15-01-2019

playful look at life and games

this book explains the various games that humans play. careers, athletic titles, they're all theatrical. lots to ponder in this great work.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Carey Rouse
  • 05-01-2019

a horribly long confusing riddle

I quit after about 40 minutes. And after scanning ahead the whole book is exactly the same. it doesn't seem like there's any point to any of this.

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  • A Pen Name
  • 15-12-2018

Full of ridiculous assertions

Full of ridiculous and unjustified assertions. Totally unconvincing at the ambitious goal of building a framework for understanding the world.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Attila Tamas Zimler
  • 08-11-2018

This is so philosophical that any logical implication doesn’t make sense

The author strives to use words because, therefore, but thus without actually making any logical sense.

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  • jg
  • 21-08-2018

Interesting

The message is interesting, at times clever. However, the content seems highly abstract and the writing style (sometimes pompus, convoluted, philosophically technical) does NOT help to make the insights easier to grasp. It would be best for anyone interested in the book (and in philosophy in general) to purchase the printed book.

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  • Miklos Tibor
  • 06-05-2018

Good listen with an important view on ourselves

It flowed really organically and I finished it in obe sitting. It triggered many ideas and touched on quite some numerous subjects that are quite necessary for the idea to take root and for it to uphold itself and flourish.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful